Advantages and disadvantages of cork flooring and cork laminate
- General to the cork
- Engineered flooring
- Disadvantages of the cork floor
- Quality differences in cork floors
- Tips for quick readers
Cork soil is extracted from the bark of cork oak. It is hydrophobic, very elastic and poorly flammable. In fishing, for example, he serves as a swimmer on fishing rods, he is also used as a sealing material in machinery and equipment and he beautifies every room as a cork floor, if it is used as a floor covering.
General to the cork
Cork flooring as a floor covering for connoisseurs
Cork flooring promises a high level of living comfort. As a warm, soft and natural material, a cork flooring brings comfort and a natural living atmosphere. Cork has properties that are beneficial for indoor breathing. This makes cork, like other natural materials, particularly suitable for allergy sufferers. When laying cork as a floor covering, however, there are some aspects to consider.
Cork flooring is not equally suitable everywhere
Cork is an organic natural material. Organic substances are by nature not designed for a lasting existence, but are subject to permanent, natural decomposition processes. Although cork is known for its waterproof properties. However, these are always associated with a high swelling capacity of the material. Its use in humid environments is therefore a special challenge. Also, decay and mold can be dangerous in the long term even a cork flooring. For a complete covering of the floor of an apartment with cork flooring, special measures for sealing are therefore required in the wet rooms. But a cork floor also has further limitations in its applicability. These include, for example, the restrictions on underfloor heating.
Natural building material with tradition
Cork is a natural substance. The soft, rubbery material is extracted from the bark of cork oaks. These grow mainly in warm regions of southern Europe such as Italy, Greece, southern France and Spain. Growing cork oaks is a very lengthy process that requires a lot of experience. This makes cork materials relatively expensive and limited in availability.
In the interior, cork is used as a wall and floor covering. The raw material cork is crushed to a granulate and processed by means of a binder to the desired formats by an adhesive-press process. This also used bottle cork is used again. For the insulating and steaming properties of the cork, the size of the individual granules in the granules is hardly critical. This allows a wide range of manifestations. Coarse grain sizes are used to produce the typical cork surface with its pleasant haptic properties. The finer the grain, the more diverse the possibilities of texture and color.
The selection of cork flooring
One has to differentiate between cork flooring, cork mosaic and the massive cork tile (also commonly referred to as "cork parquet") in cork flooring. In addition, there are many uses for interior design, where cork is also used. The following formats are customary for building materials, laminates and cork tiles:
Roll cork are rolled mats made of adhesively pressed cork granules, which is used as impact sound insulation under laminates. It is an excellent alternative to plastic-based impact sound insulation. Roll cork is therefore particularly suitable for users who place great value on natural building materials. Sound insulation from 2 mm thickness costs about 2.30 euros per square meter.
Cork prefinished parquet is an inexpensive way to enjoy the benefits of a cork floor. The parquet panels are now offered in click-plate format as standard. Cork in particular offers the granulated structure the possibility to equip a large room without visible joints in the floor covering.
The prices per square meter depend on the degree of processing and the thickness. The thickness always indicates the total strength of the individual element. The cork is only the top, visible layer.
- 4 millimeters thick, unsealed, structured: about 11 euros
- 4 millimeters thick, sealed, structured: about 15, 50 Euro
- 11.5 millimeters thick, sealed, granulated: 14 euros
- 8 millimeters thick, sealed, structured: 20 euros
- 10.5 millimeters thick, bleached, ground, polished: 32 euros
Cork tiles are made entirely and in solid cork. They are applied by adhesive bonding. The advantage of the cork tile is that it has higher insulation and damping properties. Walking on thick cork tiles is particularly pleasant due to the rebounding effect of the floor. As with prefinished parquet, the price per square meter for the cork tile depends on the degree of processing and the thickness.
Here are a few prices:
- 4 millimeters thick, unsealed, unstructured: about 20 euros
- 6 millimeters thick, sealed, structured: about 36 euros
- 6 mm thick, sealed, textured, printed: about 43 euros
Cork tiles are limited in thickness to 6 mm by default. In addition, cork boards are available, which are universally applicable. Cork boards are available up to 40 millimeters thick and cost in the heaviest version about 120 euros per square meter. They are only offered untreated. Coloring and texture cost 10 euros per plate (about 0.55 m²) surcharge.
Cork mosaic consists of mats with many small and uniform cork tiles glued on them. They are laid like tile mats and then grouted. Prices start at cork mosaic including glue and grout material at about 50 euros per square meter.
A cork floor offers the following advantages:
- Natural material for a pleasant living atmosphere
- Heat-insulating effect, especially pleasant when walking barefoot
- Impact sound insulation, ideal for quick and retrofit installation
- available in many colors and textures
- perfect for allergy sufferers
- Sustainable in cultivation, easy to recycle
Disadvantages of cork floors:
Cork can only be won to a limited extent. The natural limitation of the raw material ensures comparatively high prices. For comparison, here the comparison of one square meter of floor covering
- Laminate: 2-12 Euro
- PVC: 4-12 euros
- Carpeting: 5-30 Euro
- Ceramic tile: 5-30 euros
- Cork: 30-80 euros
- Real wood parquet: 50-200 Euro
Cork is one of the high-quality floor coverings. Supplying a whole apartment with this material is a cost factor that must be well-calculated. Here is a rough cost statement (per square meter)
- Prefabricated parquet (unsealed, unstructured): from 11 euros
- Adhesive: 4, 50 Euro
- Sealing: 2.50 euros
- Tooth spatula: 5 Euro
- Bowstring with handle: 10 Euro
If the processing of the expensive material is to be left to a specialized company, one can expect a doubling of the costs.
Cork has mechanical properties that must be taken into account during installation. Here you have to pay attention to the following:
- Swelling in moisture and moisture
- Stretching under the influence of heat
Therefore, in large areas with an expansion joint must be worked and sealed at least in the bathroom and the kitchen of the cork floor.
What is in many places a positive feature of cork flooring causes great problems elsewhere: The insulating effect of cork makes it unsuitable as a topping of underfloor heating systems. This is especially true for the thick cork tiles. The porous structure of cork prevents heat transfer into the interior. In addition to the expansion effects described here comes a large energy loss. In order to heat a cork-tiled room with underfloor heating, a very high heating capacity is required. This is not just a big waste of expensive heating energy. Also, the insulating effect of cork flooring can lead to heat accumulation in the floor heating.
Finally, cork has only limited compressive strength. Heavy pieces of furniture or point loads caused by small contact surfaces can quickly lead to damaged areas.
For comparison here a few compressive strengths of floor coverings:
- Real wood parquet made of hornbeam: 673 kg / cm²
- Screed: 800 kg / cm²
- Floor tile: 4000-5000 kg / cm²
- Cork floor: 5 kg / cm²
Disadvantages of the cork floor
In summary, cork flooring has the following disadvantages:
- Very expensive
- organically prone
- mechanically working
- swells when wet
- unsuitable for underfloor heating
- Limited compressive strength
Quality differences in cork floors
Pay attention to quality
High prices always attract providers who offer cheaper by compromising on quality. Cork is a high-priced material that can easily be tested for its quality. The following factors can be checked:
- 450 to 500 kg per m³ are the ideal value. This is written on the packaging. Alternatively, the weight of a tile can be measured and its density calculated.
- If wood chips are visible in the cork, the volume was increased by unfair means
Thickness of the plates
- Adhesive cork slabs are at least 4 millimeters thick, cork finish parquet at least 11 millimeters thick.
- Should be natural and not chemical, otherwise an inferior binder was used
The German cork industry has published its own logo, which serves as a seal of quality. Products that have this seal of approval can be bought without hesitation.
Tips for quick readers
- Inform about the costs
- Seal cork flooring well in damp rooms
- No cork floor on underfloor heating
- Plan expansion joints for large areas
- Pay attention to quality